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Mycoremediation of California Wildfires

Fire remediation is a necessity for protecting our watersheds from toxic chemicals released from homes burned in wildfires raging across the Western US. 

Over the past several years, California has been experiencing an increasingly high volume of wildfires. In 2020 alone, the combined effect of more than 8,400 documented wildfires burned over 4.1 million acres in California, more than double the previous record. While the bioregion evolved as a fire-adapted ecology, the human habitation of the region has not, and numerous structures are destroyed every year, with over 9,200 structures burned in 2020! These burned structures then release hazardous chemicals, such as heavy metals and petrochemicals, in the form of toxic ash. When the rains come later in the year, runoff from the toxic ash enters the watershed, contaminating fragile aquatic ecosystems for many years to come.

The Healing Power of Mushrooms

In the Fall of 2020 Worldwide Water Wizards joined with the organization CoRenewal and the volunteer efforts of Wildfire Protectors Corps to protect the watersheds below burned homes in northern California using fungi and bioremediation techniques. Some fungi have the incredible ability to absorb human-caused pollutants and either store them, preventing them from entering water sources, or even transforming them into less toxic forms.

The longterm goal of CoRenewal, Wildfire Protectors Corps and Worldwide Water Wizards is to develop proven bioremediation solutions that can be used on a large scale after wildfires.

How do we do this work?


Wattles are long socks filled with straw, which are installed on hillsides below a burn site. The wattles slow down and filter the runoff as it flows down hill.


CoRenewal's research on burn sites is intended to scientifically determing the effectiveness of fungi in toxin removal.


The soil from fire sites is sampled above below and under the wattles to test for heavy metals, fungal life, and soil stable aggregates from fire sites before and after wattle installation. 


After installation, some of the wattles are then inoculated with oyster mushrooms while others arenow, in order to determine ow effective the fungi are in removing toxins.

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Heal the land & waters you love with your community.

Communal action allowed the installation of the wattles to be much more extensive, efficient, and timely given the urgency of catching potential rain runoff. Working with volunteers, organizations, and organizing neighbors in various regions from Santa Cruz to Northern California helped us research on multiple site locations.


Coming together as a community can be a healing and beneficial action for neighbors who have experienced the trauma of fire and loss by collectively working towards protecting and healing the landscapes and watersheds in which they live. 


Worldwide Water Wizards always support and seeks out community organized remediation efforts. If you or anyone you know has been effected by California wild fires, please reach out to us if you are interested in using mycoremediation to heal the land and waters you love and we will do our best to support you.

To support CoRenewal’s research,
click here to donate 
To learn more about CoRenewal's Fire Remediation Work,
visit their webpage
To learn more about fire remediation in general, including what you can do, check out this Fire Recovery Guide produced by the county of Santa Cruz.
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